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Booking a coronavirus test

Help and guidance to find the right test for you

There are two main types of Covid-19 tests. The first is symptomatic testing, also known as a PCR test. This is for people who are showing symptoms. 

The second is non-symptomatic testing, which means you must not be showing any symptoms when you visit one of our testing centres. This type of testing is often called lateral flow testing, or rapid testing.

Symptomatic testing

If you have any symptoms – a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your taste or smell – you must start self-isolating immediately, while you book your test.  

How to book a test

Tests must be booked in advance through the national coronavirus website, NHS app, or by dialling 119.

Covid-19 symptomatic testing site

Two walk-through testing sites are now open in Islington. The sites, on part of the Sobell Leisure Centre and in Finsbury Leisure Centre, are open daily from 8am-8pm and are not able to accept people who come for tests without booking. They are walk-through sites only, without parking provision on site for people attending for tests. Residents are asked to travel to the testing sites on foot, bicycle or motorcycle, and not by public transport. The Sobell Leisure Centre has lots of cycle parking.

Non-symptom testing

The council is offering free, rapid-turnaround Covid tests for people who live and work in Islington. During the period of national lockdown people should reduce their risk by staying at home as much as possible. Non-symptom testing is available to those who work out of their home and in contact with others e.g. key workers. Examples of critical workers include:

  • those working in health or social care, education and child care including social workers
  • government or council staff involved in the covid response
  • charities and workers delivering key frontline services
  • those involved in food production, distribution and sale
  • police, fire and rescue services
  • transport staff
  • those working in utilities such as gas, electricity and water supply
  • postal services
  • or those working in waste disposal.

A full list of key workers can be found on the government website.

The rapid test will help to identify anyone who unknowingly has the virus, and enable those who test positive and their contacts to self-isolate, stopping the spread of the virus. The tests take around 15 minutes and you get your results usually within two hours of leaving the testing site via text or email. 

If you test positive, you may be eligible for a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment

Check the interactive map to find your nearest testing site, and please visit the closest site to you with available appointments. If the nearest test site is in another borough, visit that council's website to book a test.

Book a test in Islington now

Get a rapid test in Hackney and the City of London

Get a rapid test in Camden

Get a rapid test in Haringey

Further lateral flow test sites will open elsewhere in the borough to increase the volume of people able to access a test without having any Covid symptoms. For more information of what to do if you receive a positive lateral flow test read our FAQs.

Non-symptom FAQs

Who can get tested

The rapid tests (lateral flow tests) are specifically for asymptomatic people (people who don't have any of the symptoms of Covid-19 - a high temperature, a new continuous cough, and loss or change to your sense of smell or taste).

With a national lockdown in place, everyone should be staying at home as much as possible to stop the spread of coronavirus. If you are a key worker and you need to leave home to work in a critical role, we would like to invite you to get a free, rapid test at one of our locations. 

Examples of critical workers include:

  • those working in health or social care, education and child care including social workers
  • government or council staff involved in the covid response
  • charities and workers delivering key frontline services
  • those involved in food production, distribution and sale
  • police, fire and rescue services
  • transport staff
  • those working in utilities such as gas, electricity and water supply
  • postal services
  • those working in waste disposal.

 A full list of key workers can be found on the government website.

It is vital that people with symptoms do not come to the centre for a rapid test. If you develop symptoms, you should book a PCR test. For more information on this, visit the NHS website.

Why should I get tested?

We know that around 1 in 3 people with Covid-19 don’t have any symptoms, but can still pass the virus on. These rapid tests aim to identify people who do not have Covid-19 symptoms but who are infectious and could unknowingly spread the infection to others. Identifying and supporting infectious people to isolate before they develop symptoms will help reduce spread, and protect the vulnerable.

We hope that many people will recognise the benefits and take up the offer of getting a rapid test.

Where can I get tested?

You can get tested for free at St Luke's Holloway (Hillmarton Road, N7 9JE), Islington Assembly Hall (Upper St, N1 2UD), Arsenal Community Hub (56 Benwell Road, N7 7BA), and the Vibast Community Centre (167 Old Street, EC1V 9NH).

Find your nearest testing site

Operating hours differ from site to site:

  • Islington Assembly Hall is open seven days a week, 10.30am - 8pm.

  • Arsenal Community Hub is open Monday - Friday, 10.30am - 6pm.

  • St Luke's Holloway is open Monday - Friday, 10.30am  6pm.

  • Vibast Community Centre is open seven days a week, 10.30am - 8pm.

We are actively working to open other test centres in the borough - more information will be available on our website.

Do I need to book a test?

Yes, booking a test is advised. You can book at St Luke's Hollowaythe Assembly Hall, Arsenal Community Hub, or the Vibast Community Centre

Both sites also have a drop-in service, for those without a booked appointment. If you have a smartphone with you it will be quicker to register you on site. If it gets busy, there will be a Covid-secure queueing system outside, with social distancing in place, managed by building security.

You will need a mobile phone with text messaging capabilities or an email to receive your results.

How does the rapid test work?

It involves a throat and nose swab with results analysed inside the building (not a laboratory). Results are ready very quickly. You will receive your results by text or email after you leave the test centre, usually within 2 hours.

You need to leave the test site once you have undertaken your test. Get another rapid swab test if you do not get your result within 12 hours.

What do I do if I test positive?

If you get a positive result you and anyone you live with must self-isolate for 10 days from your rapid lateral flow test. Everyone in your household will be a close contact and must also self-isolate for 10 days. Contact tracing will be initiated through the NHS or local contact tracing team and other close contacts will be advised to self-isolate for 10 days too.

From 27 January 2021 you do not need a confirmatory PCR test

Can I get financial help if I test positive?

Eligible individuals who test positive will be entitled to the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment in the same way as a regular swab test through NHS Test and Trace. Please note the government has provided eligibility criteria for this payment. Find out more and apply for a Test and Trace Support Payment.

What happens if I test negative?

You will continue to follow the preventative measures currently recommended for stopping the spread of the virus.

To protect yourself and others, you must remember:

  • Hands – wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water often, and as soon as you get home - use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
  • Space – stay at least 2 metres away from anyone you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble.

You need to follow the coronavirus restriction in your local area.

If my result is negative, can I go and visit friends and family?

Rapid Covid-19 tests reduce the risk of spreading of infection. A negative test using a rapid test does not eliminate the risk of Covid-19 transmission. If you have a negative test result it does not change the current rules we all need to follow during local restrictions.

You need to follow the coronavirus restriction in your local area.

How many tests can I have?

We advise you get tested regularly. Please wait at least five days between your tests. 

If you get a positive result to a symptom-free test, you must self-isolate and book a PCR test via the government website to confirm you have the virus. The message you get with a positive result may not automatically tell you to do this. 

It is important that you complete the PCR test and return it according to the instructions.

How does it work with the NHS Test and Trace app?

Positive results from tests will be collected by NHS Test and Trace and published as part of the daily case numbers, including how many positive cases are detected with this new method of testing. NHS Covid-19 app users should input their results into the app.

Will the test work with the new strains of Covid-19?

Yes, the test will pick up the new strains of Covid-19, such as the Essex and South African variants. Information and evidence can be found on the government website

Can I use no-symptom test for the 'Test to Release for International Travel' scheme?

You cannot use a rapid no-symptom test to meet the needs of the Test to Release for International Travel scheme. More information can be found on the Government website
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